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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

This quarter I’ve saddled myself with two advanced workshop courses, the final revisions of my honors capstone project, and a senior thesis (alongside a social psychology course, because — why not). As I progressed through week one, attending the introductory workshops and lectures of the quarter, and meeting with my thesis advisor for the first time, I realized just how much work I’d taken on. Insert my friends saying “I told you so” here.

But this is my quarter to sit down and write, and figure out if writing full-time is what I really want to do in my life (I’m pretty sure it is, but let’s do a test run, just to be sure). So while eventually I may have to stall my Japanese self-instruction or minimize the time I spend on some other activities, I am determined to continue with all of my courses. All I need now is a consistent writing routine to help me get in the groove.

The first thing I did when constructing my writing routine is to set aside specific times to do work. I’ve found that saying “I’ll write two hours every day” is just not as effective as “I’ll write from 6pm to 8pm” for my brain. Giving myself a specific time frame each day to work on my projects not only helps me organize mentally what two hours really is, but allows me to block out time so other events won’t impede upon my writing. It’s easy to say “I’ll just write later” when your friend asks you out to dinner or your partner wants to go on a date. Having a non-negotiable chunk of time, almost like a class, allows you to schedule around it. “I have to write from 7pm-9pm,” you may say to that friend, “but I can get a late dinner afterward.” “I can go on a date,” you could tell your partner, “but I have to be back at 3 to start my writing routine.” Writing cannot be pushed to the wayside when it is supposed to be your priority.

Next, I selected my writing places. Where are the locations I feel the most focused? What places in the past have led to me getting distracted, putting down my work, or ignoring my writing session completely? Narrowing down the best and worst places to be during my writing time has helped me in these last few days get a lot more writing done. A coffee shop or a library is best, but my desk in my room is pretty good too. Being outside on-campus is a bit rough, especially if the weather is nasty. I definitely can’t try to write in my partner’s place… I will absolutely try to nap instead (it’s too comfortable).

The third thing I did was tackle distractions. My phone is a definite issue for me. I’m good at ignoring notifications, but I find that if I’m paused on a particularly difficult sentence that just isn’t coming along the way I want it to, I’ll hop on TikTok or Threads and begin the doom scroll to avoid tackling the problem. I’ve also noticed I work a lot better when I have a tea or a coffee. Something about the taste inspires me and makes me feel put together. Not only this, but I’ve realized a trick: if I have one of those moments where I want to reach for my phone, I can grab my drink instead. Putting something else in my hand makes it harder to use my phone. I take a swig, set the drink down, and intentionally move my hands back to the keyboard. Mini-break over.

And fourth, I’ve asked myself, what makes me focus? Body-doubling, which is when you work alongside another person or persons to increase productivity, helps me immensely. I’ve told all my friends this quarter that I am often available to get together to study or work. Background noise works for me as well. Growing up in a house with two younger siblings that were loud when I was working on homework taught me to really effectively tune out background noise… with the strange caveat that now I need the noise to function well in the first place. Coffee shops are great because of the ambiance. There’s enough people talking that conversations overlap into word mush. If I’m not tight on a deadline, I’ll put on a youtube video that may have talking in it. If I need to really focus, libraries or other quiet places are excellent because there’s no speaking, but the rustle of pages or scratching of pencils reminds you other people are working diligently on their own projects, and you should too.

If you want to create a writing routine, I encourage you to do so. Consistency allows not only for productivity, but also for easy generation of new ideas. If you’re working on your project every day, you’re thinking about it every day. It becomes easier and easier to open up the laptop, or pick up the pen. It becomes easier and easier for the words to come, or for the plot to develop. Good luck, and happy writing!

Caroline Lesser

UC Riverside '24

Hiya! I'm Cal, and I'm a fourth year Creative Writing major at the University of California Riverside. In addition to writing and editing for UCR's chapter of HerCampus, I'm focusing on my honors capstone project. I love cozy video games, tea lattes, crochet, and language learning. Aside from articles, I write horror and fantasy.